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Weighing in on Earth Hour 2008

Posted by Connie Zheng In Monday, March 31 2008 under: Solar Power Info

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge at night. Now imagine it without the lights.

On March 29, inhabitants and businesses in around 380 cities—including Bangkok , Rome and Chicago —turned off their lights for at least an hour. At 8 p.m. wherever they were, various households, businesses, and governments were urged to flick the switch and to return temporarily to candlelight in order to reduce emissions caused by coal-generated electricity. Over 290,000 people and over 24,000 businesses signed up to participate in Earth Hour 2008, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-sponsored global movement that began last year in Sydney, Australia, when two million residents cut energy usage for that hour at about 10%. Kicking off this year’s campaign in Sydney , where it was also an event featuring candle-lit dinners and Aborigine performances on the beach, Earth Hour 2008 aimed to highlight the connection between energy usage and climate change and, organizers said, to show that communities indeed care about the planet. Even Google temporarily turned its ordinarily white background to black.

Critics, though, have dismissed Earth Hour as a “gimmick,” an event that gave vendors an excuse to hawk “green” products and consumers an excuse to do business-as-usual, except by the light of a candle rather than that of a bulb. Even WWF head Carter Roberts said that the energy saved by turning off the lights for an hour would be negligible, and Dublin’s banks and brokerages stayed brightly lit throughout Earth Hour, despite the city’s pledge of participation (most other Dubliners and many other Irish took part, however). Yet, if Roberts acknowledges that the direct effects of the event on energy usage are small, then the main point of it isn’t just to directly reduce energy usage. It’s also to raise awareness—whether by media coverage or simply word of mouth—not only on a grassroots level but on a governmental level as well.

Do you, readers, think that the image of a dark Golden Gate Bridge or Sydney Opera House is sufficient to turn lawmakers’ focus toward designing policies to promote renewable energy adoption/investment and reducing emissions? Or do you think that an ordinary consumer just "raising awareness" is insufficient at this point?

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The Green Restoration of Historic New Orleans

Posted by Margaret Collins In Wednesday, March 26 2008 under: Solar Power Info

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Solar and Economic Growth

Posted by Eric Messinger In Monday, March 24 2008 under: Solar Policy, Energy Policy

A growing energy industry will obviously produce jobs, and renewables like solar have been a crucial part of that growth. RedOrbit has put out the latest in a string of articles about the positive effect of the energy industry on national job growth. With worries of an upcoming recession having turned into worries about the now-present recession, this is even more important to keep an eye on.

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American Coal: Taking Its Business Where It's Wanted

Posted by Connie Zheng In Friday, March 21 2008 under: Energy Policy

 

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Glacial loss accelerates

Posted by Margaret Collins In Wednesday, March 19 2008 under: Solar Power Info

In a press release this weekend, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stressed the importance of coming to an international agreement on combating climate change, citing findings from the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) in Switzerland that demonstrate ice loss from the world's glaciers is not only continuing unabated, but has in fact been accelerating. Findings like these were covered in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report (2007):

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Solar Shingles: A New Look in the Neighborhood

Posted by Adam Sewall In Tuesday, March 18 2008 under: Solar Homes, shingles, building integrated PV, Solar Technology, solar

Imagine a future where, instead of being added on to a home once it's built, solar panels are integrated into the very materials that are used in its construction. Solar shingles are but one example of building integrated photovoltaics (PV), and they're becoming more and more popular in the green build world...

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NESEA Building Energy 08: Day 2

Posted by Margaret Collins In Wednesday, March 12 2008 under: Massachusetts Solar, Solar Industry News

The official start to the trade show segment of the NESEA's conference was an address from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. One government official with more than twenty-five years' worth of experience echoed the general sentiment when he said that Governor Patrick's speech was a "shot in the arm". Alternative energy has had little support from the last few state administrations, so Governor Patrick's commitment to, and enthusiasm for, moving forward with renewables is going down pretty well indeed.

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NESEA Building Energy 08: Day 1

Posted by Margaret Collins In Tuesday, March 11 2008 under: Massachusetts Solar, Solar Industry News

While the official reception and opening festivities--like an address from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick--aren't until tomorrow, the intensive half- and full-day workshops at the NESEA's conference and trade show in Boston are well attended. The thirteen workshops focus on specific areas in the renewables industry. Architects, engineers, and contractors can get get tips and discuss the benefits of using an advanced 3D modeling tool that takes into account the whole lifecycle a building. A workshop and panel dicussion directed at municipal officials and urban planners discusses the intersection of institutions and climate change. More casual attendees can get walked through the process of retrofitting existing single family homes for greater efficiency, or get introduced to building science or domestic hot water systems.

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Building Energy 2008, Pregame

Posted by Margaret Collins In Sunday, March 9 2008 under: Massachusetts Solar, Solar Industry News

The NESEA (Northeast Sustainable Energy Association) is hosting its 33rd annual Building Energy Conference & Trade Show in Boston this week, from March 11-13. The parameters on the breadth of the conference, stemming from the NESEA's dedication to issues particular to the Northeast, allows for remarkable depth of education. Workshops and sessions are offered for everyone from the greenest beginner (...sorry) to the savviest pro. You can attend the free, broadly informational public forum on Tuesday whose theme is the Green Revolution with a nod to that most staunchly New England revolution, the Boston Tea Party; and then on Wednesday, go to an "Interactive Load Calc Party!" in which participants can see for themselves how different variables affect peak loads and annual energy usage. The first day of the conference focuses on intense all- or half-day workshops, while Wednesday and Thursday offer a wealth of shorter sessions as well as the very well populated trade show.

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Solar-Powered Lawnmower Debuts

Posted by Eric Messinger In Saturday, March 8 2008 under: Solar News, Solar Technology

Sky News reports that a solar-powered lawnmower has debuted in the United Kingdom. This is the first product of that kind in the world.

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Europe Looks to 2012 and Beyond

Posted by Adam Sewall In Friday, March 7 2008 under: Energy Policy

With the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol just under way, European Commission (EC) ministers met recently to nail down post-2012 climate policies. The so-called 20-20-20 benchmark—reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% below 1990 levels, and producing 20% of all electricity from renewable sources, both by 2020—remains a cornerstone of EC efforts. As for the European Trading Scheme (ETS), a framework that mandates the trading of GHG emissions among European industries, it looks like the EC favors further tightening of emissions credits. (Quick review: one credit, which currently trades between 20 and 24 euros, permits the holder to emit 1 ton of carbon.)

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Heartland Institute Meets Climate Change in NYC

Posted by Margaret Collins In Wednesday, March 5 2008 under: Politics, Solar Power Info, Climate Change

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post observed that the March 3 report from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) "arguing that recent climate change stems from natural causes" was developed by "23 authors from 15 nations, some of them not scientists." The release of the report came in the middle of the 2008 Conference on Climate Change in New York, a two-day conference that drew about 500 attendees. As Ms. Eilperin observed, that may be all the skeptics there are left. The tone of the gathering seems to have been rather jovial and heavily seasoned with Al Gore jokes.

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Big Solar News from England

Posted by Eric Messinger In Monday, March 3 2008 under: Politics, Solar Policy, Solar News, Energy Policy

Telegraph UK reports that the British government will soon reverse its existing policy and will move to solar feed-in tariffs. The upshot is that Britain consumers will now be in a far better position to pursue economically feasible solar installations for their homes.

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